Lex Luthor is dying. Having cheated death once by transferring his brain and eyes to a healthy clone body and posing as his own son, Lex Luthor II, a clone malady has struck and is killing him. Attempts to clone Superman and the Matrix Supergirl have failed and his last hope is Project Cadmus. Of course, Luthor is a vengeful bastard and decides to paint a picture of Cadmus as monsters who are poisoning him and others. The end result is a Mêlée à Trois between Cadmus, Lexcorp and the creatures known as the Underworlders that put Metropolis and Superman in the crossfire. By the time this fight ends, Metropolis will never be the same.
The story was split into two halves - the first half was The Battle for Metropolis, which chronicled the war between Cadmus and Lexcorp, and The Fall of Metropolis, which chronicled the destruction of Metropolis and its immediate aftermath. The story saw not only the conclusion of a number of storylines, but also the deaths of a number of famed supporting characters and set the stage for the crossover with Milestone Comics, Worlds Collide.
The Fall of Metropolis provides examples of:
- And I Must Scream: By the end of the event, Luthor's body has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer move, living his life trapped in his body until the events of Underworld Unleashed.
- Anyone Can Die: A good few of the Superman supporting cast is killed off in this storyline, most notably Cadmus director Paul Westfield, Luthor lackey Sydney Happerson and Myra, the orphanage caretaker.
- An Arm and a Leg: Professor Hamilton is shot in the arm by a hallucinating prostitute, but by the time they get him help, his arm is too badly damaged and must be amputated.
- Bat Family Crossover: The story ended up crossing over with the recent Superman Family spinoffs. The clone disease ended up affecting Superboy in his own book, leading to his appearance in this story where he's eventually cured. Supergirl's 1994 mini-series also built up Lex's downfall here, with the last issue of it taking place simultaneously with the first chapter of Battle and intersecting at one point. Steel didn't personally get involved in Metropolis, but his book tied in by helping to set up the Worlds Collide crossover.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Lois suspects, but has no proof, that her computer was actually bugged by Luthor. A little while later, Perry White has all the backup computers examined and learns that they've all been bugged.
- Break Them by Talking: When Luthor threatens to destroy Metropolis, Superman gets him to stand down by appealing to his ego. Luthor's flunky, Happerson, doesn't take it well.
- Broken Pedestal: A lot of people are heartbroken to learn that Luthor was actually an evil scumball, some noting that people would probably die in disappointment to have known that.
- Clear My Name: The story starts off with Lois publicly humiliated by Luthor, fired from the Daily Planet and made a laughingstock. Lois spends Battle finding the evidence needed to clear her name and prove Luthor is the monster he really is.
- Clone Degeneration: This kicks off the story, as Donovan's clone disease is killing Lex Luthor's body, as well as the Underworlders, the Newsboy Legion, and Superboy.
- Continuity Porn: The storyline involves plot points that go as far back as Invasion!.
- Enemy Mine: Lord Satanus, otherwise known as Colin Thornton, gives Superman help with some...ahem, "subtle influence"...in their united effort to take down LexCorp and to minimize the destruction of Metropolis.
- Greater-Scope Villain: While Lex is ultimately the central villain of the arc, the entire story is kicked off by the clone disease that was created by Dabney Donovan, who only shows up briefly in the middle of the story to kill Paul Westfield.
- Humongous Mecha: Superman has to fight his own Kryptonian battle suit which Luthor had in his possession after the events of The Death of Superman and later used near the end of this storyline to duke it out with Superman.
- Indy Escape: Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen run from the rolling Daily Planet globe that has fallen off the building and tries to crush them, while Superman does everything in his power to stop it from doing so. Eventually he succeeds.
- Living Macguffin: The Guardian proceeds to be this for the clone malady, due to the fact that he's one of the first clones.
- Mêlée à Trois: Battle deals with a multi-force battle between Lex Luthor's "Lex-Men", Project Cadmus' security forces, the Underworlders and the Metropolis SCU.
- Mushroom Samba: A hallucinogenic gas unleashed on the citzens of Metropolis causes them to see things. A Jewish man sees a National Guard soldier as a Nazi soldier, the soldier sees the Jewish man as some sort of monster, a militia man sees his fellows being turned into aliens, Superman hallucinates seeing Lois Lane being killed, and so on. While he was also affected by the gas, Professor Hamilton would be the worst affected victim, but not because of himself being exposed to the gas — rather, it was by a hooker who, under its influence, mistook him for her pimp and shot him in the arm, the damage of which is too far gone by the time he gets treatment and ends up with it amputated.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Perry White is horrified when Metropolis is destroyed, realizing he sent Lois, Jimmy and Ron into the city and now they were going to die. Thankfully, they don't.
- The Plague: The clone malady that infects all cloned beings — namely, Luthor, Superboy, and the Newsboy Legion. They ultimately realize that this was caused by fallout from Engine City. Superboy and the Newsboy Legion get better; Luthor, unfortunately, gets the cure a bit too late and thus is trapped within his own cloned body.
- Put on a Bus: Luthor's physician Gretchen Kelley makes her last appearance in this story, turning herself into the authorities after realizing she's been aiding a monster like Lex.
- Salt the Earth: Luthor's last-ditch plan should he die was effectively bring Metropolis around everyone's ears and having its remains ravaged by robots and hallucinogenic gas.
- Taking You with Me: When Superman goes to confront Luthor, he has his finger on a button, vowing to bring Metropolis down with him, declaring that he decides if Metropolis lives or dies.
- Trash the Set: While Metropolis got wrecked earlier between Invasion! and The Death of Superman, this is the first time it was ravaged on such a devastating scale. Metropolis wouldn't be rebuilt until after Zero Hour!
- Villain Ball: Early on, during a standoff between Cadmus soldiers, Team Luthor, the Underworlders, and the SCU Superman arrives to try to stop things from getting out of hand and convince the angry Underworlders who are dying from the clone disease to stand down and let Cadmus work on a cure to save them. Just when it looks like Superman could be getting through to them, Luthor, who need we remind you is also dying from said clone disease and whose life would be saved by a cure as well, is monitoring the events and chooses to activate the rigged weapons he gave the Underworlders right at that moment, causing all hell to break loose. Justified however as Dr. Kelly later notes the disease eating away at Lex has likely taken a huge toll on his sanity and kept him from acting rationally.